The Wetfoot Blog

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gear Review: The Ultimate Tarp

Trippers that venture into the great outdoors know there are certain obstacles which one must overcome. A shortened list of some elements; heat, rain, wind, snow, sleet, and bugs, bring even the most advanced outdoorsman down from wilderness fantasy land to reality. The more extreme the places one travels, the bigger the elemental challenges. Those that travel in the far northern reaches of our continent often joke that mosquitoes and black flies keep all but the die-hards away. This may be true, but man might just be outsmarting nature with this addition to its arsenal. The Lean Plus Tarp from Cooke Custom Sewing, http://www.cookecustomsewing.com/, will pack down into a small stuff sack and yet create a feeling of sanity in the midst of nature’s gentle reminder of her power.


Pros:
- The Lean is a lightweight and compressible shelter that can be brought on backpacking, canoeing, and sea kayaking trips with little added burden.
- The lean design allows the tarp to be set up in such a way that it is not blown away by strong tundra winds.
- Set-up is quick and easy, allowing you to seek shelter from the bugs and rain as soon as you reach your destination.
- The spacious interior allows for ample room for a group of 6 to cook and relax from a long day’s journey.
- And the real winner, the bugs stay on the outside while the fresh breeze and the scenery can be taken in on the inside with the help of the front screen wall

Cons:
- The fabric, as with all lightweight material, is relatively weak compared to other tarps. Proper care of gear will ensure the longevity of this product.
- For extended trips such as our expeditions, the zippers tend to wear down. Dan at Cooke Custom Sewing suggests running water down the zipper to clean all the particles out and to frequently use a zipper lubricant.
- There is no bottom as you would find on a tent. This makes for a great cooking shelter but may not make the best sleeping shelter. We found that if you are in the land of noseeums, opt to sleep in a tent in lieu of the Lean. Just trust me on this one.

Overall, this is a great addition to your outdoor gear stockade. Whether you are venturing to the far north or if you will be simply lounge inside a shelter away from the bugs, the Lean Plus could just be what you are looking for. Whichever the case, take to the outdoors this coming season and don’t be afraid of the elements. Besides, there is no such thing as bad weather, just different types of good weather.

Here is to a mosquito free season,

Ryan Wagner
Wilderness Program Director

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